Chickpea Salad Sammies (DF)

Lunch arrived today amidst a variety of house renovation chores.  Having little time to make a hot meal as I might have liked to, I decided sandwiches would be just the thing. Lacking our usual go to sandwich fare, and having eaten most of the leftovers earlier in the weekend, I was in a bit of a pickle (har har) about what kind of sandwiches I could pull together.  And then it struck me… literally.  The precariously balanced can of chickpeas in the pantry tipped and landed on my foot.  I decided I would show that can who’s boss.

In trying to figure out how to quickly incorporate chickpeas into a sandwich without mashing them and cooking them somehow, I considered typical sandwich offerings.  The notion of a chickpea salad came to mind immediately, and I knew a route that combined the chickpeas with some manner of creaminess and some savory herbiness could only lead to a good lunchin’ place. A quick dip into the fridge and the spice rack and I was off to the races.

Chickpea Salad (GF,DF) makes enough for 4 generous sandwiches and some leftover for a lunch or two

  • 2 outer ribs celery, choppedIMG_0306
  • 1/2 red onion (or whatever you like), chopped
  • 2.5 c cooked or canned (rinsed and drained) chickpeas
  • 4 T sunflower cheese (or creaminess of your choice)
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 t dried tarragon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into smallish pieces
  • sprinkle paprika (opt.)
  • green olives, chopped (opt.)

Sound like a lot of ingredients, I know, but this whips up super quick.  Combine the chopped celery, onion, and chickpeas in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl mix the sunflower cheese, mustard, vinegar, and seasonings.  Whisk (or fork it as I usually do) until incorporated.  Scrape wet bowl into dry bowl.  Stir until they’re all playing nicely.  Add avocado and stir again to combine.  It’s okay if the avocado smushes a bit – it will just add to the creaminess of the salad.  Serve with a sprinkle of paprika and a dusting of chopped olives.  We had ours on whole wheat bread with red lettuce.  Delish, and just right for a VERY busy weekend.

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Power Tabbouleh – and yes, it’s GF

Don’t know about you all, but here in Mid Maryland the weather is SPECTACULAR.  It feels like fall – the great part of fall when the humidity drops, the temps are still in the low 80s and the sky is bright blue and features fluffy white clouds.  Whoever loaned us their weather, I thank you and regret to inform you that we would like to keep it, thank you very much. I almost don’t care that the infant tomatoes that were emerging post deer invasion have also been eaten.  Shame on me for going out of town for 36 hours.  Apparently creating a urine barrier as deterrent is a daily requirement.

While the deer (or the squirrels, I don’t even care any more who the perp is anymore) were eating my tomatoes, we took a short trip to my hometown, Silver Spring, MD.  Mr. Little Sis had some work to tend to there over the weekend and we tagged along so we could do a little “get to know your Mom” touring. We returned thoroughly exhausted, in part from incredibly awesome park experiences, but mostly because the folks on the other side of our locked adjoining room door were reunioning with their family and a lot of bourbon until 4 in the morning.  I digress…

Our superb park experiences over the weekend inspired me to take the kids a little farther afield for some adventures today.  After swim class we played tag, restaurant (with robbers and everything, my children like exciting dining), and fed a whole mess of turtles in the quarry.  We found some bugs (and fed them to the fish – sorry bugs), watched some geese and played on some great playground equipment.  After leaving there and scoring a whole slew of deals on perennials at the hardware store, we all returned home pretty wiped out.  I decided it was time to give a summer standard from my past a go. Tired hungry kids are sometimes the most willing to try new foods.

IMG_9539Standard tabbouleh has tons of parsley (which is great for you in a variety of ways and covers a multitude of garlic breath sins), bulgur, tomatoes, garlic and some kind of acid mixed with olive oil.  Well… I hain’t got no maters, I say almost weeping.  Well, okay I have one that I plucked early before the real invasion began.  It was just coming ripe on the windowsill.  In honor of Mr. Bigg Sis and all those for whom gluten is verboten, I decided to make good use of the leftover quinoa in the fridge. Following Deborah Madison‘s lead (which is always a good idea), I combined green lentils and chickpeas to power that salad up even more.  Plenty of protein, fiber, and tons o’ flavor.  Yep, power tabbouleh.

Power Tabbouleh – adapted from Deborah Madison’s Bulgur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

  • 2 c chopped fresh parsleyIMG_9553
  • 2 c cooked quinoa (or whatever grain you have on hand)
  • 1 1/2 c cooked French lentils (I’m sure brown would be fine too, but I do like the green here)
  • 1 c cooked or canned garbanzo beans (drain and rinse if canned)
  • zest of two lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic, made very small however you like
  • 4 scallions or spring onions, chopped small, including some green
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 6-8 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

IMG_9543Looks like a lot of ingredients, but this was so ridiculously easy – one of those times where having some leftover cooked grains in the fridge makes dinner a snap.  I cooked my lentils specifically for this meal as I didn’t have any in the fridge.  I cooked two cups of French lentils in boiling water with a bit of salt and a bay leaf.  I can’t recommend this bay leaf maneuver enough – made the beans so flavorful and delish.  I had way more than I needed for the salad, but I knew my little lentil fan (Miss Picky Pants – you go figure that out) would want some plain.

IMG_9544While the lentils cooked I did all of my chopping and combined all of the cold solid ingredients.  I drained the lentils and let them cool for about half an hour. You could absolutely make this warm, but I was going for room temp or cooler. When I was done assembling a green salad and making dressing, I added the lentils to the other ingredients, combined the lemon juice, oil and paprika and poured it on.  Tossed everything to mix.  Salted and peppered to taste.  Lovely. Then I chopped my sole tomato and added it.  The added tomato was nice, but honestly, unnecessary (blasphemy). This salad knocked my socks off and is super flexible.  What do you like in your tabbouleh? As for me, beans are where it’s at.

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Favorite Chef Gush


Once again I am reminded that good food is just a few steps away, in the pages of my Deborah Madison bible, I mean cookbook.  A fabulous friend introduced me to this book and my kitchen has not been the same since.  Just to be clear, I am not a vegetarian, at least not at the moment; however, for the past few years my family and I have been pursuing a diet that includes less meat and highlights as many vegetables as possible.  Madison’s book title is absolutely spot on.  The dishes she includes can be eaten as an entree, or a side dish and are all based on the principle that real food tastes good and that real food combined in just the right way is transcendent.

Our recent Deborah Madison experience was her Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes.  Know what’s in it?  Mostly chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes, along with a few other items for flavor like onion, garlic, carrots, herbs and seasonings.  It is exactly the kind of dish that I love to find.  The ingredients list doesn’t take up the whole page, is markedly lacking in exotics, and the procedure is 5 sentences long; the results are spectacular.  Because I’ve made this dish, I have children who eat chickpeas and enjoy it.  The first time I made it, my husband and I enjoyed it and my children passed, instead eating the rice and yogurt I served alongside the dish.  The second time, my son joined us; my daughter stayed in the resistor’s camp (this is actually where she lives most of the time, occasionally emerging to visit the rest of us).  This time (what’s that about the third time being the charm?), everyone played.  It still wasn’t her favorite, but she REALLY loved the chickpeas and the rest of us loved the whole thing, this time served with quinoa.  Deborah Madison knows what REAL food is all about.  Essential ingredients in combinations that entice the senses and tickle the taste buds rather than drowning them.   The more I set my palate free from factory food and chemical habituation, the more I am able to appreciate the simple and spectacular on my plate.  My body already thanks me; and now, having been at it a while, my children do too.  Life in the kitchen is grand.